news, updates, and conversations from Volcano Theatre

Thursday, 9 October 2014

The Four Horsemen Project: Origin Story

Today marks one month until the opening of Volcano’s The Four Horsemen Project in association with Crooked Figure Dancers and Global Mechanic Theatre, presented by Soulpepper. This incredible production was originally produced back in 2007 and here we Throw Back to ’07 to see how this show came to be.

Says Ross:

On August 5th, 2000, Stuart McLean broadcast a piece of sound poetry for four voices on CBC radio called Allegro 108. Kate and I were having a coffee together when we tuned in. We stopped talking. This was one of the most arresting, musical, and innovative arrangements of text for the human voice that we had ever heard: percussive, pitched speaking ingeniously arranged. The piece was so good, so radically different from anything we knew, that we both assumed it was: A) brand new; and B) created elsewhere. We waited to hear who these cutting edge artists were, and what country they were from. Stuart MacLean came on at the end, “Well, that’s one you won’t find anymore.” He’d been playing a thirty-year-old vinyl recording made by a group of Canadian experimental poets called the Four Horsemen.  We’d never heard of them. So we took some steps.

Cast of The Four Horsemen Project: Naoko Murakoshi,
Graham McKelvie, Andrea Nann &  Jennifer Dahl
Photo by Etai Erdal

Says Kate:

I don't know that anyone other than the poets themselves could truly do justice to this work, but my choreographic interpretations are all created in the spirit of play, admiration and tribute. I fell in love with the first piece we built, Allegro 108, the first time I heard it on the Vinyl Café. On digging deeper, the effect of the poetry has gone far beyond its initial fascination for me and has come to represent a whole world of possibility - of the imaginative creative power that humans possess, of what can happen when the verbal moves beyond the literal to the ineffable, of "the depth of vocalization which is possible", to quote bp.

The First Cast of Allegro 108: Jennifer Dahl, Naoko Murakoshi,
Andrea Nann, Michael Sean Marye.
Photo by John Lauener

This piece has been a labour of love, which means it’s been a lot of work, vastly complicated, and deeply rewarding. We thank the many inspiring and tireless individuals who have worked on this project. We thank our intrepid performers for their remarkable gifts and for making the near-impossible so much fun. In particular we thank Paul Dutton, Steve McCaffery, Rafael Barreto-Rivera and Ellie Nichol, for making it so easy to ask for help and for their tremendous generosity of spirit in giving it. Finally, thanks to bpNichol, in absentia. We never knew him, and we’ll never forget him.

Check back with us regularly in October and November where every day will feel like a Throw Back Thursday to the original Four Horsemen and The Four Horsemen Project. Be sure to get your tickets today by clicking here